When I think of the passing of time, it’s always a mixture of awe, slightly overwhelming and potentially depressing. I can still remember the sensations of New Year’s Eve being celebrated in my back garden with neighbours and to think that was four long, cold, dark, damp months ago is kind of horrifying!
A whole bunch of you have messaged asking a whole bunch of questions. Mostly requesting more blog posts, which has always been my intention. Here’s the deal, consider this a confession of sorts - which feels appropriate for my Catholic self nearing the end of Lent. 2018 was an intense year for me on so many levels. If you want to read about the details of intensity, go back and read the last blog post. Just as I was embracing the year ending with a huge question mark as my personal punctuation, a longstanding unknown became known. Which was exhilarating! But with it came a tsunami of releasing stress. What am I talking about? Let me share…
When I moved back to the UK to begin life with The Italian, I had to do so as his family member - both legally and in immigration terms. My right to live and work in the UK was tied to him as the family member of an EEA National. When I decided to leave that relationship because of abuse and control, I jeopardised my entire future in the UK. The place I’ve been the most settled both personally and professionally. The place I have my home, my business, my personal life, my professional life and a family structure that extends to both my mum and dad’s side of family. So here’s the thing… if there is one thing in the world I cannot be (and you can ask my parents’, lovers, friends, family members or former employers) I cannot be controlled. More accurately, I won’t be controlled. To go deeper, I choose NOT to be controlled. I will risk losing in order to uphold my right to declare my freedom and do what my moral compass points me in the direction to do. I suppose what I’m saying is, I’m not easily influenced. In the case of leaving an extremely toxic relationship very quickly, for me meant 2+ years of unravelling out of that union legally then another 2+ years of wading through the murky waters of immigration via the Home Office. In a nutshell, I’ve lived the last 4 years in a state of daily uncertainty. And as much of a rockstar as I am for making it through (and yes, I did just give kudos to myself - I’m old enough to own my triumphs without disguising it as a humble brag), it took it’s toll. If I had to place a soundtrack to it, Hole’s Live Through This comes to mind. After a rejection of my application in the summer of last year, the event I’m convinced triggered my panic attack and subsequent month-long wobble, I went through a further six month reapplication after the Home Office admitted to making an error in my case. Then, on the 21st of December, winter solstice, the longest night of the year - I received confirmation of my retained right of residence application being approved. If you watch nature shows and love the super slow motion footage of moisture evaporating from frozen surfaces as the earth thaws, that is a visual image of 4 years of stress leaving my body. I literally felt myself melting. If you go back to read my January post, you’ll read how sick I got at Christmas but was still happy as a pig rolling around in a muddy pen. Well, that’s because I literally was granted some certainty into my New Year as the old one phased out. And as many wonderful experiences of laughter and love 2018 brought into my life, it marked the end of a long four year cycle I was very happy to kiss goodbye.
This miracle was only possible because I have the best immigration lawyer. She waded through the flotsam and jetsam of my case to create method in the madness. I felt so blessed to have someone so accomplished and qualified fighting the good fight on my behalf. She showed so much humanity and was a steady guardian during the ups and downs and many delays. But in the end, with a strong appeal and a solid strategy, she delivered my dream to me. It was and is the best Christmas gift ever. I write often about how freedom is my highest value. I have that now. I am free to create my life in the land of my choosing for myself, by myself. My success building a life in a country not of my origin is now entirely up to me. This news, as positive as it was and the result is, coupled with endings and new beginnings, meant I simply needed to channel my inner Katharine Hepburn, line up my favourite Nike trainers, curl up in and amongst the busy-ness of business and start building from a place of knowing. That has taken time. And it’s required rest, healing, feeling, a lot of self-care, more sleep, and simply not succumbing to the pressure to post when I couldn’t articulate how I felt about my experience. I needed to take my time, and if there is one thing I’m fortunate about, it’s to not buckle under the weight of external pressure.
So, for those who follow this blog who have been asking for more content, asking for advice on how to build your business, asking for sustainable fashion and beauty brands, asking about my favourite places to eat, pray and love in London and beyond, asking for my delirious and disaster stories of lovers lost and lovers found, asking for everything I originally promised this space would be, I can now say - it’s coming. Because I have the mental, emotional, physical and creative space to deliver.
I’ve taken the last 4 months to accept and ease into my new reality. Thank you for your patience. I always promised this space would be a place of sharing honestly. Now you know what has been my reality. I have never shared it because the part of me that believes in manifesting my dreams also believes in holding things closer to my chest while situations are in flux. I’ve had a small, selective and very supportive group of humans who have carried me through this adventurous yet unknown time. Each one playing an integral role that kept me steady, sane and provided support that felt like soul food. As I spring forward, I hope you’ll come with me. If there is one thing you take away from this post, please let it be that you are worth risking it all for.